RUSI in the News - April 2009

Citations of RUSI expert analysis and events in the global media, April 2009.

    RUSI in the News
  • RUSI Experts in the News

RUSI Experts in the News


Writing in the RUSI Journal, General David McKiernan warned of ‘another sizeable increase in kinetic activity’ in Afghanistan, potentially leading to a rise in civilian and military casualties. NATO, he said, ‘continues to lack sufficient forces and enabling capacities in several key areas.’ The practice of applying ‘national caveats’ to the use of forces was, he argued, no help in this regard.

The gap in capabilities between the US and their European allies has been a source of some concern. Moreover, the gap is growing due to unequal defence spending. Europe, warned Jonathan Eyal, ‘remains an absolute dwarf when it comes to any military activity’.

The UK meanwhile has been refocusing its activities in Afghanistan, according to Alex Neill. ‘There has been a shakedown of what the party line is on why the UK is there in the first place’, he said.

Media coverage: Time Magazine, The Guardian, Press Association, BBC News, The Herald

See General McKiernan’s article in the RUSI Journal April/May 2009

See also RUSI NATO at 60 and RUSI Analysis Afghanistan


As pirate attacks once again hit the headlines, Bjoern Seibert has warned that the separate EU and NATO missions ‘will needlessly duplicate already expensive effort, and the resulting disarray might even give pirates the upper hand’. They should, he suggested, ‘consolidate their their separate efforts into a single operation.’

As Richard Philips, captain of the Maersk Alabama, awaited rescue in a lifeboat with his Somali captors, Lee Willett was cautious about the prospects of military action: ‘My gut reaction is that any military action comes with significant risks and that the US would only take such risks as a last resort.’ When that action eventually came, Lee Willett analysed the dramatic rescue by US Navy Seals.

Video available at BBC News

Media coverage: Foreign Affairs, Time Magazine, The Guardian

See also RUSI Analysis Maritime Security


As the UK ends its mission in Basra, Michael Clarke assessed postwar operations in Iraq. The basic problem, he said, ‘was that the military and the political objectives were never properly aligned and the UK had little control over the political sphere, chiefly in Baghdad.’ A disconnect between tactical and operational goals one the one hand and political maneuvering on the other has left the army ‘wary of open-ended political commitments’. At its current size and budget, the army’s operations at any one time are limited to a deployment of 10, 000 troops.

Iraq in these years and now Afghanistan simply soak them up indefinitely, leaving everything else under strain.

Media coverage: The Guardian (Full text and quoted by Richard Norton-Taylor)

See also Anthony King: Britain’s Vietnam? Learning the Lessons of Operation Telic

RUSI Analysis Iraq


After several Pakistani nationals on student visas were held on suspicion of terrorism (and subsequently released), Michael Clarke, said overseas students were a clear target for surveillance. 'You can bet your bottom dollar that the security services take a great interest in people travelling on student visas,' he said.

The problem they have is, have they got the numbers and the manpower to do the checks?

Media coverage: BBC, De Volkskrant, Frankfurter Rundschau

See also: Margaret Gilmore on the UK's New Counter-Terrorism Chief


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